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Blues handed Euro fitness boost

Guinness PRO12 Editor

19 May 2010

Cardiff Blues have been handed a major fitness boost ahead of their final game of the season.

The Blues won’t be involved in the Magners League’s showpiece event in Dublin in a week-and-a-half’s time but they do have a small matter of a European final to contend with before they head off on holiday.

Dai Young’s men take on Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup this Sunday and the region have been handed a major fitness boost ahead of Friday’s team announcement.

Wales scrum-half Richie Rees has been passed fit for the trip to Marseilles having recovered from a troublesome ankle injury.

Rees missed the Round 18 win over Munster after featuring in 14 of the Blues’ previous 17 Magners League ties, in a season in which he made his Wales debut and won four Six Nations caps.

Rees also sat out the 18-15 Challenge Cup semi-final victory over London Wasps but will definitely line up at the Stade Velodrome where he will replace rookie stand-in Darren Allinson.

"Richie is fit and has been a big part of our turn-about since Christmas,” said Young, who lost the services of another Welsh No9 in Gareth Cooper earlier this season.

"He has deserved his recognition with Wales and brings tempo and quick service to the game.

"It is important for us to have him back out on the field."

The Blues face the star-studded French outfit fresh from a week off after they narrowly missed out on the Magners League Play-Offs and, although hugely disappointed to miss out on a top-four spot, Young believes the break could be a blessing in disguise.

"Of course, I was disappointed not to get into the Play-Offs, but if you look at the final in isolation, I believe we’ve had the best preparation by not playing last weekend,” added Young.

"Toulon are a quality side and could pick from two different teams. But it’s a cup final and we know what it takes to win big games.

"We have been used to them in the last six weeks and we want to lift the trophy."